I’ve been sick for the past week, and for the last few days I’ve been catching up on blockbusters I’d missed. I hadn’t seen any of the new Bond films with Daniel Craig. The wonderful Dame Judy Dench reprises her role as M, but she plays a much larger part in these films than she did in the Pierce Brosnan days. She’s a salty old woman and I love her uncompromising style.
In Skyfall, when an old enemy comes out of the shadows to destroy her, killing many of her employees in the process, the weight of M’s terrible responsibilities shows in her demeanor. Nevertheless, when her enemy mocks her for her comportment, she looks him dead in the eye, and says, “Regret is unprofessional.”
The line about regret is actually a recurring one; it appears in all three of the new Bond movies, although it’s usually spoken by Bond. I’m sure that in the context of being intelligence agents, regret is unprofessional because wishing for something that is impossible represents a willful detachment from reality. For the people whose job it is to make uncompromising decisions in difficult situations, losing touch with reality is an amateur move. The quote is equally applicable for microbusiness owners like ourselves, responsible for any and all decisions regarding our business. A certain decisiveness is required of us, and getting all wibbly-wobbly over whether we made the right choice is a terrible weakness. But rejecting regret is also a mercy that we grant ourselves.
Regret is like acid; it eats you up inside if you harbor it. Every decision you make is made in good faith. You make the best decision you can, under the circumstances, with the information you had available at the time. In many cases, you make the only decision you can. For some people, it’s not enough to tell them, “Be kind to yourself.” Self-flagellation is almost a point of pride for some. So if that fails, stand ramrod straight, and tell yourself, “No regrets. Regrets are unprofessional.”
And then get back to work, making the decisions only you can make.